AS U17 Women's Beach Handball Team — Oceania Champions
After clinching a spot and qualifying for the next year’s Youth Olympics, the American Samoa Handball Association’s next focus is training the territory’s Under-17 Women's Beach Handball Team, in preparation for competition at the international level.
American Samoa's U17 National Women’s Beach Handball Team departed the territory on July 3 for the 2017 Under 17 Beach Handball World Championship in the Republic of Mauritius, an island country off the coast of the African continent.
It was also the qualifying tournament for the October 2018 Youth Olympic Games set to be held in Buenos Aries, Argentina.
“We have learned so much competing against some of the most experienced beach handball teams in the world,” American Samoa Handball Association president, Carl Sagapolutele Floor said about the championship tournament.
“While Spain, Portugal, and Thailand showed their experience, we were able to overcome our deficiencies and play China much tougher while almost forcing Venezuela to a shoot out,” Floor told Samoa News yesterday, a day after the 14-member American Samoa delegation, — 10 athletes, three coaches and a medical official — returned home after clinching a spot in the Youth Olympics.
Before the team left the territory, Floor told Samoa News that the challenge for them and “our first primary mission, is to finish higher than Australia, which a tough team to beat.” American Samoa did just that — beating Australia, their rival during the May Oceania tournament in the Cook Islands, where American Samoa claimed the gold medal over the team from Down Under.
“The experience gained by competing against the world's best U17 handball teams enabled us to beat our Oceania rival Australia twice,” Floor said yesterday. He explained that the second game was close with Australia winning the first period by one point and American Samoa winning the second period, forcing a tie breaking shootout.
“The last shooter from Australia traveled, securing our second win against them,” said Floor, who was one of the coaches that traveled with the team to Mauritius.
“Because of the point differential between us and Australia, we had to beat Mauritius in order to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games,” he shared. “Our girls played at their highest level using everything they have learned in beating Mauritius, securing an invitation to the Youth Olympic games as the Oceania Champions.”
At the world championship, Floor said the “biggest standout for American Samoa was Danielle Floor who played every minute of every game, shutting down almost every team's best scorer while scoring a few much needed points herself.”
Furthermore, “Naomi Aasa played outstanding defense against Australia's best shooter, which helped secure American Samoa’s win.”
As for preparations for the Youth Olympics, Floor said they have over a year to train and prepare “and we will begin with strength training next week. In addition, we will have open tryouts as we will be searching for an additional goalkeeper while trying to add more offensive players.”
The International Handball Federation will be sending a beach handball instructor within the next few months to American Samoa “to provide coaching assistance and strategies for our players and coaches,” said Floor, who will be traveling to Europe for training in preparation for the Youth Olympics.
Additionally, plans are being drawn to take the selected National Team to the USA in June to train and compete in preparation for the Youth Olympics.
Floor said the AS Handball Association is “hoping that our government will assist us by creating a beach court, perhaps at the Lions Park area or the Sports Complex.”
“Our biggest deficiency is the lack of a sand court and it was evident during our first few games as our girls needed to get used to running and jumping in the soft sand,” he said.
Floor expressed his sincerest appreciation for the strong support from the parents of the players, as well as family members — all of whom he said were cheering for Team American Samoa during the world championship. “Thank you parents, thank you everyone, thank you American Samoa,” he concluded.